Oaky, here I am with my long-overdue trip report for my very first visit to Disneyland Resort Paris!
Travel dates: Late February, 2010
Travel method: Eurostar train from London to Disneyland Paris Resort
Resort: Disneyland Hotel
Accommodations: One bedroom suite
Ages Represented in Group: 37, 34, 3(almost four) years old.
Disney Resort Experience Represented in Group: Frequent Walt Disney World visitors and Disney Vacation Club members!
Comments: See below for tips and insights!
Cast of characters: Me(StarTourist)...37 years old Mrs. StarTourist...34 years old, and Lil' Tourist...almost 4 years old
Let me start by saying that I absolutely loved my visit to Disneyland Resort Paris(DLRP) It was something that I wanted to do for a very long time, and I'm glad that I did. Joining me were the Mrs. and our almost-four year old daughter. We are 'Disney Veterans' who visit Walt Disney World at least twice a year. I myself have been to Disneyland, CA at least nine times as well. I'll try to give info in a rough order of how we experienced things. Now, on with the show
After a two hour trip on the Eurostar, we arrived at the Marne-le-Vallee station and Disneyland Resort Paris(DLRP) Don't ask me about the Eurostar...I slept the entire time. It was comfortable and pleasant enough to do so. We proceeded to to the Disneyland Hotel to check-in.
First, a warning: I mentioned that I loved my trip, and that I had loads of fun. But, in the spirit of offering up tips and the like, I have to be honest. And in doing so, I will bring to light some of the slight unfortunate events that happened during our visit. Overall, it was a blast and I will visit Disneyland Resort Paris again.
ABOUT THE DISNEYLAND HOTEL: I found it to be charming and wonderfully comfortable. The room we stayed in had a view of the plaza area leading up to the Disneyland Hotel's entrance to the Disneyland park itself. The room was very spacious and clean. The bed was shared by all three of us, although there was a couch to sleep on just in case.
When you stay at the Disneyland Hotel, I believe you are entitled to one FASTPASS per family member per day which can be used in either the Disneyland Park or the Studios Park. These are very useful. They were made of paper, and not at all similar to Walt Disney World's FASTPASS tickets.
You also get a free breakfast buffet every morning. A great deal if you ask me. I cannot remember the name of the place, but it is adjacent to the other Hotel restaurant called Inventions. We also ate at Inventions which was also very good, albeit relatively expensive. The wait time to get into Inventions wasn't too pleasant, as some folks tried to sneak their way through the line.
ABOUT DISNEYLAND ITSELF: Wow! Beautiful and truly unique amongst Magic Kingdoms across the world. But, there are some things that you need to know when visiting...
1- The French don't 'wait in a queue' like most other citizens of the world. Now, to be quite clear, I am not bashing the French here. It's just that, well...you notice certain cultural differences in certain situations. Case in point: In WDW for example, if there are characters to meet, there is a clear cut line. Everybody intuitively gets it. You wait in line until your turn comes around. But, when we encountered Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum outside the Alice Labyrinth, it was a free-for-all. Left side, right side, up the middle, it didn't matter. There was a Cast Member there, but to what end I hadn't a clue. He really just stood there and did absolutely nothing to form a line or keep a flow going. So, when you see a character out in the parks over there, just realize that little fact.
2- You know how in stateside Disney parks that some queues are of the large crowd corraling variety, and not a one-by-one straight line? Get used to large groups trying to 'outsmart' you by not-so-cleverly slipping past you and your family. This time around, it was a rather large German group. Somehow, they managed to rush half of their group past us because my daughter wasn't moving her little feet fast enough for them. Funny thing is, when it came time to enter Phantom Manor(the Paris Haunted Manison where this happened) that the back half of the group was about to be cut off from the front part already inside the entrance...we were in-between them both. They just about panicked. So much for minor victories. Again, know that this is a possibility. And I must comment that this can of course happen in Florida or California. But it never has happened to me personally there.
3- Slippery when wet. I've never seen so many puddles and slippery spots inside any theme park(Disney or not) in my life. It was rainy during our visit to be fair, but puddles and slippery spots abounded, especially in and around Pirates of the Caribbean and at the ends of Main Street USA. Be very careful if the weather is rainy.
4- Pin Trading. It is almost non-existent here. They do sell pins, but it doesn't seem like Pin Trading has taken off there just yet. Cast Members with trading lanyards were sparse. However, there was a store on Main Street USA with two exceptional Cast Members. Very friendly types. I cannot remember their names unfortunately, but we traded and talked with them for a while. The gentleman even gave my daughter a pin without having to trade him one in return.
5- Does anybody know how to walk around here? Okay, here is maybe your most important tip: You will not be able to walk normally when visiting. Seriously. It's almost as if every single person walks as if they are the ONE and ONLY person in the entire vicinity with nobody else around them. And it's not a 'driving on the opposite side of the street' kind of thing. Have a stroller with kids in it? You will be cut off mid-stride. Walking in a straight line? Just try it. It's like trying to walk through Walmart or the mall on the busiest shopping day ever. And the park was not all that busy, and certainly not busy enough to have to constantly swerve and dodge other pedestrians. It was so bad, that if I had decided to simply not budge, I probably would've knocked down close to 99% of the people in front of me. Men, women, and children. Being the nice guy that I am, it didn't come to that.
ABOUT THE HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS PARK: It too was a great experience. Here are some tips for the Studios.
1- Crush's Coaster. It was the single longest queue in both parks. It was also very much worth the wait. Quite fun. The down side is that it does not have a FASTPASS system, and it breaks down frequently(so I have been told)
Now here's yet another warning about how queues are treated in DLRP. Our daughter was just barely tall enough to ride Crush's Coaster. The Cast Member near the front(but well within the established line itself) asked for her to be measured, which is of course perfectly welcomed by me. No sooner than she stepped towards the measurement doohickey, the line behind us surged forward in giddy haste. Meaning, when they saw that a little girl was being measured, they took the opportunity to rush past us. This NEVER happpens stateside, so if you find yourself in this situation, try your best to block off those behind you. they WILL take advantage of a little kid getting measured.
Sidenote: The Cast Member only took heed of where my daughter's head was. She never bothered to look at my daughter's legs, which were bent because my daughter was trying not to hit the top of her head on the measuring bar. So, the Cast Member wrongly assumed that our daughter was too short to ride. We had to plead our case with her to let us move along. She assured us that Lil' Tourist wouldn't be allowed to ride. Oh well, on we went...
Upon approach of the turnstiles, we were asked to be measured again. This time, the queue itself was narrow, which made it difficult for those behind us to move past us ungraciously. Again, we had to point out that our daughter was bending because of the measuring bar above her head. Let me be clear: She was definitely tall enough to ride. And again, we were able to proceed onwards. But not before I witnessed another attempt to cut around us. I saw a French guy look at us in a sneaky way, whisper to his family something that I didn't understand, and all at once they speeded past us through the turnstile. Unbelievable. We got dirty looks from them all the rest of the way through the queue for some unknown reason. Yippee, good for you.
2- Stitch Live: Imagine Epcot's Turtle Talk With Crush, only it's with Stitch. And unlike WDW's Stitch's (not-so) Great Escape...I don't care for that attraction, Stitch Live features a Stitch who acts like Stitch, and that can easily fit into Lilo and Stitch film continuity. Our daughter even got to talk to him! Be sure to enter the show with the appropriate language signs, or you'll hear a Swedish Stitch or something.
3- There are two theatre-type shows here: Cinemagique and Animagique. Cinemagique was unceremoniously 'ferme'...which is French for 'closed', even though the marquee still had show times running across it's display. The Cast Member was very unattentive, responsive, or knowledgeable as to why it was closed. All he would elaborate on was the word, 'ferme' or 'closed' so we visited Animagique instead.
Animagique was about animation, while Cinemagique was about movies. Animagique starts off very well, but it's ending is non-existent. Mickey and Donald just hop around and sing, 'Animagique, Animagique...' and the show's storyline just ends without any real fanfare or closure. Go see Cinemagique instead. It has to be better.
OTHER GENERAL TIPS: The food there isn't all that expensive. Sure, it's all in Euros and the US Dollar takes a hit, but aside from the expensive Inventions inside the Disneyland Hotel, nothing was outrageously expensive.
If you want water with your meal, ask for ice water. Or else, they'll bring you bottled water and will charge you for it. Table service restaurants don't offer free refills. Be aware of that, too.
On the Tower of Terror in the Studios, the Cast Member asked our ride vehicle if anyine there spoke English, and where they were from. I said yes and that I was from New Jersey. The rest of the vehicle was impressed and slightly bemused by that. It was a cool moment. I've never been treated like something special because I'm from New Jersey
That's all I can bring myself to write right now, as I have to attent to other household duties. Any questions? Then ask away! I'd be glad to help!
StarTourist, signing off!